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May 23, 2022 4:00 am
Sometimes we may be tempted to water down some of the hard things said in an effort to make Christianity more appealing or less offensive today on Truth for Life will see why this approaches more dangerous than the persecution that may come if in fact we clearly teach the things Jesus Alistair Begg is in Revelation chapter 2 study in verses eight through 11 living in an environment of persecution. The enemies of their faith came not only from the Roman authorities but also from the Jewish community daily life and filled with little and large expressions of antagonism and antagonism that came that way primarily because they refuse to bow the knee to Caesar they were living as aliens in a strange land and you will notice that he mentions four dimensions of the trials I just draw your attention to them first about poverty says I know your afflictions.
I know your poverty. Also they were confronted not only by poverty but by slander, refusing to take part in emperor worship.
That would've been jumped on by their Jewish enemies because the Jews were exempted from their sacrificial obligations and therefore they were able to exploit their animosity towards these Christians by constantly bringing them before the Roman authorities and pointing out that these portable Nazirite sees Nazarene B Belize followers of Jesus of Nazareth.
They wondering what they should be granted full impact of a slanderous time. I just turn that one section removed as it well and say this letter be where ever falling down on that side of things. If all that we say in a single day with never a word left out or printed each night and clear black and white. It would make strange reading. No doubt, and then just suppose that our lives should close we should read all record through and when we sign when we try a great deal less talking to do and I more than half think that many acting would be smoother in life's tangled thread half what we say in a single day were to be left forever on said that's why the New Testament is a great deal to say about the tongue and about slander. Well, those who are on the receiving end must learn not to respond in kind. These people these Jews they thought they were at the synagogue of God.
But no, says these is that the synagogue of Satan because he is the liar and the father of lies. Therefore, their condemnation is clear, thirdly, that affliction was represented in something that was about to befall them. Slander and poverty. They were presently expediency but the next two was something that they were about to face the prospect of prison verse 17 B while the apostles and in June they were going to do is interesting. It says that you will enjoy this for 10 days you will suffer persecution for 10 days.
I think it's more than likely that that figure as with other numbers is there is as an illustration of what our representation of uterine experience persecution for a limited time and maybe literally 10 days and I want to argue the case just seems strange that this canister is restrained and you will experience persecution for 10 days overlie the weather forecasting over the next few days and that is going to stop. It may be, and may not. But in keeping with all of the other use of the numbers in the book there's a chance that that is so the animosity against them was so great the persecution so fierce that prison wouldn't start. In cases give way to death. And these people he says are going to have to prepare themselves for the possibility of martyrdom. Those of you to have done church history will know that here we are in Smyrna at the site of one of the most famous Christian martyrs throughout all of the ages, namely Polycarp, who was martyred as the Bishop of Smyrna.
The people are able to do the chronology on it reckon that Polycarp was at least a member of the community at the time that this letter was written and would have been received. Therefore, he, along with others. If he wasn't, by this time, and leadership would've been sitting and listening as the letter was read.
I wanted any pay particular attention to it.
I wanted and it never crossed his mind. I tell you that the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution. Polycarp set out there. I wonder what he felt because history records that in February of AED 156 Polycarp the Bishop of Smyrna. By this time would been encouraged by those who loved him to go away into hiding because of the antagonism of the Roman authorities was ferreted out of his hiding place, the officer that was given the responsibility of bringing them back to the office of the proconsul said to them on the way. Polycarp, why don't you just we can have respect to your age, Polycarp, you don't have to go through this. What harm tenant duty said to sacrifice to the Emperor Polycarp said no brought before the proconsul in the amphitheater. He was ours again to recant swear and I will release you revile the Christ. Polycarp replied 86 years now. I have served him, and he has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me the answer. The proconsul persisted swear by the genius of season. I have wild beasts if you will not change your mind I will throw you to the Polycarp replied with them, be brought, says the proconsul as you despise the beasts unless you change your mind I make you to be destroyed by fire and infuriated members of the crowd Jews and Gentiles alike began gathering wood for the fire setting Barnum and Polycarp stood by the state. He said don't tie me to it. You don't need to be student by the state as they lit the fire underneath him and he prayed all Lord Almighty God the father of your beloved son, Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge of the I thank you that you have thought me worthy this day and this hour to share the cup of like Christ among the number of eyewitnesses and as the wind blew it was blowing the flame away from him. Adding to the length of time that it was taking him to burn the soldier, presumably with some sense of compassion reach forward and ran them through with his sword in order to protect them from further misery. While it seems long ago and far away as even as we watch these videos throughout the week of the persecuted church of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world living with the prospect. In reality of poverty and slander of persecution of imprisonment and of death.
We find ourselves saying little likelihood of that happening in Bolton in the meeting in the near future. I'm not sure that much of this is been going on in the west of Scotland.
I'm not sure that you go down to Cornwall to run a fine great marauding bands sits acting out the local clergy handing them off and grabbing a few of the congregation on the way to organizing and persecuting them, slandering them, and so on. Why not even think about that in part for your homework. Certainly we have no reason to wish upon ourselves. Persecution certainly would be wrong to contrive anything in order. Somehow or another to assuage a guilty conscience that given that this person over here is taking such a beating. Maybe if I can get at least a kick in the seat of the plans I feel a little better about the circumstances and be able to empathize more closer said in the 20th century church was in his estimation, the best disguised set of programs that the world had ever seen. The 20th century church had managed to blend perfectly with the surrounding culture that it had lost any possibility of ever being on the receiving end of this kind of animosity and persecution. What he would've thought of the church in the 21st century is conjecture.
I see this with great darkness but said I think I must as long as ministers in the pool goods threaten their faith and their sermons to the prevailing theological when as long as we dilute the hard sayings of Jesus so as to make them seeker friendly as long as we are prepared to blend with the culture, to laugh at his jokes to share in its immorality. In short, as long as we choose to live with compromise. We need fear no possibility of slander, imprisonment, and dad weekend frankly just relax. But if we are prepared in our pool's first to lead our people in a strong stand in a world of pluralism concerning the exclusivity of the claims of Christ. If we are prepared in our pool plans to lead our people in our dirty world to take a strong stand concerning the purity that is represented in following Christ. If we are prepared in our pool plates to take a strong stand in leading our people concerning the sufficiency and authority of the Scriptures and we may want to keep the letter to Smyrna and face it folks were benign were a sideline. What a dark and building where crumbling noticeboard. What a funny little group of people that the mother's union spending time at our daffodil tea eating large lumps of shortbread. So your problem is shortbread. No, I like shortbread problem with daffodils. I like that problem with her mother's union.
Absolutely not. I love mothers whenever union that's fine. I don't know why I picked on them and sort, but I'm just saying is that all God, ensures what show is show us how to do it ensures what to do. Not so that we may not so that we may bring upon ourselves. This experience was so that we may cut ice so that we may live on the AH so that we may push things out all about leadership pastors. Do you want to lead your people, or do you want to be liked by your people you want to teach your people are the one simply to give them porridge with lots of sugar you want to train the flock all you want to take on the floor, let's help each other.
The days of short, the night comes when no one can work down through the corridors of time, our gaze settles on this little dad's Army in Smyrna. I know your situation. He said remember I'm the first and the last time the resurrection of the dead know that your poor.
I know that you face slander. I know that you're experiencing imprisonment about to. I know that death stands at your door and here I want to tell you two things he says do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Jesus told his disciples you to be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
The only one you need to fear if you can cast you down into hell.
Paul refers to his death as he writes his swan song in second Timothy says that Timothy the time for my departure is at hand. I'm soon to be poured out like a drink offering the word for departure is an elusive's is the same word that would be used for striking Folding up the tent and going to your permanent residence.
The same word that would be used for unlocking oxen at the end of the burden of the day, the same war that would be used for the weighing of anger and heading home into the safety of the harbor and this is Paul as he looks at death. He says I'm going to be on your I'm going to strike camp. I'm going to my permanent residence. Jesus is made of death and narrow sunlit strip between the goodbyes of yesterday and the lows of tomorrow. Wonderful picture in the old days in places like the green or Londonderry in Northern Ireland when the husband are gone off to Canada to someone else in North America, leaving behind his his wife preparing the opportunity over there. Finally sending word calling her to come. You have these wonderful black-and-white pictures that you can find in books. You can see the tender at the jetty and daddy you can see this picture, and there are no words there need be no words you look at the faces of the family.
The father and the mother as they bring their daughter not to entrust her to the to the tender and all of the sadness as she gets on this tender and goes.
I look across the ocean, but of course that's sadness on this site is more than matched by the sense of expectation and joy at the far side, for there is one waiting there for to welcome her with open arms and in all of the joy of that reunion. It mitigates the sadness of that scene, which they left behind this is that for the Christian sure it's going to be sad to leave. None of us none of us once again I if somebody would put in a bus party for having together right now. We probably none of us would be diving for the front seat. We understand that we love life and we love these things. We don't want them to be our change we want them to be our guides, but were looking forward to the day when we will go and we will see him and we will be made like Why Paul said to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Don't be afraid. He says Woody Allen, the American playwright and cynic says it's not that I'm afraid to die is that I don't want to be there when it happens. One of the great opportunities for us in contemporary culture is to live in the face of the circumstances with a whole different dimension because we have been caught up with him who is the resurrection of life, do not be afraid and and also his word of vegetation is to be faithful to be faithful, be faithful, even to the point of death. Providence is a soft pillow all the days of our lives are written in this book before one of them came to be. The future comes in at a rate of 60 seconds a minute. How long do I have to be faithful for 60 seconds and then for the next 60 seconds but don't get alarmed that you're only 17 and now somebody just came and told you they are going to be faithful to the end and the end looks I get 100 years away. Don't worry about 100 years away. Just worry about this now. Just finish your cereal for goodness sake. Be faithful understand what is your life is a vapor that appears for a little while and then it vanishes therefore sees the day, not in the way that Robin Williams said in deadweight society.
Not that sorry first off, not that existentialism not that looking at the figures of the past and saying, these men are all gone into oblivion and you will be gone into oblivion. One day therefore sees the day because the only thing you have is now where there is a sense in which the only thing we have is now that we know as we said the other day that history is not cyclical that we are moving towards a destination that were going to see Christ, therefore we seize the day, not because there is no tomorrow but because there is a tomorrow and we seize the day. In light of all of our tomorrows to the Christian life is distinct in this way and that's why we can be faithful is why we understand when we were at school. We we learned all those quotes from from the Hamlet and Macbeth, and so on. We came along and pressing our mothers by letting them know that you know life was a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. And she said, have you made your bed, and we said no not on the wait a minute. It is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing, and she said make your bed, and went outside and horrible way to go through your life. A tale told by an idiot as I your life now all know it's not your life. All of our days in all of our deeds are good for something good for someone no matter where it is regarding matter what it is we do we do it all to the glory of God less. Beware of thinking and compartmentalized terms is beware of thinking of a raspberry harvest as a kind of spiritual venture over going back to the bank which is of course a completely secular venture that will here on Sunday and we brought out the file but outputted in the put it in the that the laptop and brought it up on the screen religious while religious activities, religious thought, religious aspirations to File out insert another file eligible back into the into the world where we live the rest of our lives, not at all in the film chariots of fire Eric little sister Janie is guilty and I cannot compartmentalized thinking.
That's why when he shows up late for the Bible class. Having been at around me practice or something. She chides him. Remember, she says to them, you know, Eric, I think you're compromising things you are putting words in her mother.
I think that you are allowing your interest in other things to pervert your interest in the things that really matter because after all, she gives him a can of those of the shorter catechism. She says to him you know Eric God made you for himself.
The inference being if you would get a hold of that attic install the silly rugby stuff and running up and down in the playing fields either the University and you're getting here and help me gather up these in books and do holy stuff. I returned to the sister identity you made me for himself. For China, I know that but he also made me fast and when I run.
I feel his pleasure. There is an inherent danger in coming to an event like this and listening to the things that are said by people like myself essentially about callers turned around the wrong way. If were not very very careful we can follow file of suggesting to the gathered community that there is a way to really serve God, which is to do in the way we are doing it. And of course if you want a kind of secondary way to serve God then you just get on with your business and be a good, faithful mom and a loyal schoolteacher and so on.
I will give her to get really serious that you know you can come and join the ranks of the funny people while you're you're welcome to join the ranks of the five people we would be glad to have more but that the fact of the matter is, be faithful, not be faithful where you are my mother I never had to pray out loud even when we had prayer times in our home. She never prayed you very quietly, but she was a great baker. She was a wonderful listener. She had a fantastic sense of humor. She prayed for her children got to go home at the age of 47 I have fought the fight. I've kept the faith. I've run the race.
Now there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness. That's what he says don't be afraid to be faithful and realize that there is a crown that awaits you in the end, a watered-down gospel is no gospel at all. Jesus promises a crown to all who are fearless and faithful in proclaiming and living out the gospel listing to Truth for Life with Alister Greg. Maybe you'd like to share your faith with others, but you just don't know how to begin or maybe you're concerned about how others would respond, but that's a case you're not alone. Evangelism can be challenging it can be intimidating.
That's why we recommend a book called mere evangelism. This book offers 10 insights from CS Lewis to help you share your faith. CS Lewis is a well-known writer.
He was skilled at presenting the gospel to others.
This book takes a look at his approach. It unpacks how he used humor and storytelling logic. All Toledo unbelievers to Christ. Specifically, the book looks at 10 unique strategies used by Lewis and suggest how you can adopt the same strategies in your gospel conversations you will gain confidence in sharing your faith and learn how to overcome the opposition that sometimes follows requester copy of the book mere evangelism. When you give a donation to support the ministry of Truth for Life. Simply click the image you see in the mobile app or visit us email@example.com/you can call us at 88858788. If you'd rather mail your donation along with your request for the book right to Truth for Life at PO Box 39, 8000, Cleveland Ohio ZIP Code is 44139 about Lapine. Thanks for listening. Jesus never promised to spare his people from suffering, but tomorrow will see what he did promise in order to help us press on in the face of trials Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life with a Learning is for Living